Troy Maxson is the protagonist of Wilson’s play and the patriarch of the Maxson family. At the start of the play, he is fifty-three-years-old and works with his friend Jim Bono as a garbage collector. He is characterized as a “large man with thick, heavy hands.” His “largeness,” as Wilson writes in the stage directions, “together with his blackness . . . informs his sensibilities and the choices he has made in his life.” He prides himself on being able to provide for his family. (Read our extended character analysis of Troy Maxson.)
Rose Lee Maxson
Rose Lee Maxson is Troy’s forty-three-year-old wife. Ten years younger than Troy, Rose is strong, resilient, and loving. She is extremely loyal and has been married to Troy for eighteen years. Despite Troy’s faults, Rose supports him in everything he does. As Wilson states in the stage directions, “[Rose] recognizes Troy’s spirit as a fine and illuminating one and she either ignores or forgives his faults.” (Read our extended character analysis of Rose Lee Maxson.)
Jim Bono is Troy’s friend and fellow garbage collector. They met one another while serving time in prison thirty years earlier and have been friends ever since. Of the two men, Bono is the follower and Troy the leader. Bono admires Troy’s attitude and he attempts to mimic his behavior. However, Troy's affair with Alberta and his preoccupation with her pregnancy lead to disharmony in their relationship. Bono is disappointed in his friend and concerned that Troy's affair will harm his marriage with Rose.
In contrast to Troy, Bono remains a loving and faithful husband to his wife, Lucille, whom he speaks of with passionate affection, claiming that she has made him a better man. Bono's positive, happy relationship with Lucille serves to illustrate that he has found the ability to change his direction in life.
Cory Maxson is Troy and Rose Maxson’s teenage son and a promising young football player at the start of the play. At the start of the play, Cory is an aspiring athlete and is being actively recruited for a college football scholarship, which he hopes to earn in order to eventually play football professionally. He secretly quits his job at the A&P to focus on his football career.
Cory loves his father and is eager to please him, but their relationship starts to deteriorate after Troy discovers that Cory has quit his job. For Troy, Cory represents all of the possibilities that he was denied as well as his unrealized dreams. This is why Troy believes he is looking out for his son’s best interests and hopes to prevent Cory’s dreams from being destroyed by racism, just as Troy’s were. However, Cory sees Troy’s efforts to deter him from playing football as undermining his dreams. Cory becomes aggravated when Troy approaches his coach to tell him that Cory can no longer play football, and he leaves home. Their relationship only worsens after Cory discovers Troy’s affair with Alberta. He sees his father in an entirely new way and leaves home after he and Troy argue.
In the intervening years, Cory does not speak to his father, joins the military, and becomes a marine. He attends Troy’s funeral only after Rose convinces him to and he realizes he needs to put the past behind him. At the funeral Cory forgives his father and comes to understand that Troy loved him but often failed to express it.
Gabriel Maxson is Troy’s younger brother. He received a severe head injury while fighting during World War II, and Troy has helped take care of him since his injury. As a result of his injury, Gabriel has a metal plate in his head, diminished mental capacities, and is prone to delusions in which he imagines that he is the archangel Gabriel. He wears a trumpet around his waist...
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